Airline daily cash burn rises as coronavirus infection climbs – Delta CEO

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(CNBC) Delta Airlines said that a spike in coronavirus infections is hurting demand for air travel, becoming the latest airline to warn about softening bookings as the pandemic intensifies.

“We’ve always said this was going to be a choppy recovery, and that’s been true in recent weeks – like others in the industry, we’ve seen some slowing of demand and forward bookings as COVID cases have risen across the U.S.,” CEO Ed Bastian said an employee memo.

Bastian said the weaker bookings are adding about $2 million in daily cash burn and that it now expects to burn between $12 million and $14 million a day in the fourth quarter, up from a previous forecast for between $10 million and $12 million.

The carrier is “still on track” to break even by the spring, an estimate that has “been bolstered by continued positive developments with vaccines,” Bastian said.

United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways have also warned about slowing bookings because of the rise in new infections. According to Johns Hopkins University data, the seven-day average of daily new cases is 164,103 in the U.S. and hospitalizations and deaths have both hit record levels.

Delta said it continues to expect its fourth-quarter revenue to come in at 30% of its fourth-quarter 2019 sales.

Delta shares were up more than 3% in morning trading.

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